This is the second article in our four-part series exploring quantum electrodynamics. After successfully applying quantum mechanics to the electromagnetic field, physicists faced a problem of boundless proportions: every calculation they made returned infinity as the answer.
You may have heard of quantum theory and you probably know what a field is. But what is quantum field theory? This article traces the development of quantum electrodynamics in the first half of the 20th century. Hair raising difficulties, heroic struggle and illustrious characters — this story has it all!
This is the last article in a four-part series exploring quantum electrodynamics. After a breakthrough that tamed QED in theory, the stick-like drawings known as Feynman diagrams, policed by a young Freeman Dyson, made the theory useable.
In the first part of this article we explored Landau's theory of phase transitions in materials such as magnets. We now go on to see how this theory formed the basis of the Higgs mechanism, which postulates the existence of the mysterious Higgs boson and explains how the particles that make up our Universe came to have mass.
It's official: the notorious Higgs boson has been discovered at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. The Higgs is a subatomic particle whose existence was predicted by theoretical physics. Also termed the god particle, the Higgs boson is said to have given other particles their mass. But how did it do that? In this two-part article we explore the so-called Higgs mechanism, starting with the humble bar magnet and ending with a dramatic transformation of the early Universe.
Everyone knows what symmetry is, and the ability to spot it seems to be hard-wired into our brains. Mario Livio explains how not only shapes, but also laws of nature can be symmetrical, and how this aids our understanding of the universe.
It is extraordinary to think that the diversity of the world we live in is based on a handful of elementary particles and a few fundamental forces. Peter Kalmus describes the combination of experimental and theoretical physics that has brought us to the understanding of today.
We take reliable radio communications for granted, but accommodating many different users is not easy. Robert Leese explains how the mathematics of colouring graphs can help avoid interference on your mobile phone.